Summer Book Club: The Book of Longings

By June 8, 2020

Coming up soon to FUMCFW, is a Summer Book Club, hosted by Rev. Linda McDermott at 11:45 am on June 11, July 9, and August 13. Each month, the group will be reading a different book and then come together to enjoy lively and thought-provoking discussion surrounding each book.

Linda carefully chose each novel based on her experience with each one. The first book of the Summer is Sue Monk Kidd’s, The Book of Longings.

You may be familiar with Kidd’s first work, the New York times best-seller, The Secret Life of Bees. Kidd is from a small town in Georgia, and a graduate of Texas Christian University, here in Fort Worth. Later in her career, Kidd began writing more spiritual essays and meditations inspired by some of her writings from earlier in her life. Her much anticipated new release, The Book of Longings, was newly published in April of 2020.

 In her mesmerizing fourth work of fiction, Sue Monk Kidd takes an audacious approach to history and brings her acclaimed narrative gifts to imagine the story of a young woman named Ana. Raised in a wealthy family with ties to the ruler of Galilee, she is rebellious and ambitious, with a brilliant mind and a daring spirit. She engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes narratives about neglected and silenced women. An encounter with eighteen-year-old Jesus changes everything.

Their marriage evolves with love and conflict, humor and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his brothers, and their mother, Mary. Ana’s pent-up longings intensify amid the turbulent resistance to Rome’s occupation of Israel, partially led by her brother, Judas. She is sustained by her fearless aunt Yaltha, who harbors a compelling secret. When Ana commits a brazen act that puts her in peril, she flees to Alexandria, where startling revelations and greater dangers unfold, and she finds refuge in unexpected surroundings. Ana determines her fate during a stunning convergence of events considered among the most impactful in human history.

Grounded in meticulous research and written with a reverential approach to Jesus’s life that focuses on his humanity, The Book of Longings is an inspiring, unforgettable account of one woman’s bold struggle to realize the passion and potential inside her, while living in a time, place, and culture devised to silence her. It is a triumph of storytelling both timely and timeless, from a masterful writer at the height of her powers.

Linda explains how she became familiar with this particular novel, “A friend of mine, Susie Faires, called me and told me about this new book of Sue Monk Kidd’s, and that I had to read it. Once she explained the premise a bit, I was all in.” Linda continues, “I got about halfway through the book and thought, ‘I want to discuss this book with a group!’ And that’s how the idea for my Summer Book Club began.”

Linda has since finished the novel and is excited and anxious to get to discuss it with the book group! “She (Kidd) asks some really tough questions and sort of creates this what if reality surrounding Jesus’ life.” These role reversals and alternative histories are tools used by authors to help us question our own realities.

As Linda says, “Are we hearing the voices of people whose stories are not similar to our own. Are we hearing the voice of the traditionally marginalized and silenced?” These important questions are so relevant in today’s socio-political climate as well. Even though this novel takes place during the days of Jesus’ life, the themes and questions represented are still so relevant today.

“Of course, this ties in directly to the notion that we don’t know each other’s stories and each of us are born into a reality we have inherited (for better or worse).” She continues, “The question becomes, how will we impact and change that which we have inherited. And how can we use our voices to help enact that change.”

Without any spoilers, Ana, Jesus’ wife in the novel, learns how to do just that – use her voice – while still dealing with uncertainty, fear, and great peril.

So come, join the discussion and use your voice. Get to reading because the discussion is just a week away! Even if you haven’t quite finished, feel free to join in the chat.

If you love to read, like to consider tough questions, and are interested in hearing a wide range of opinions, please join Rev. Linda McDermott on June 11 at 11:45 am for Summer Book Club.

And start reading for the next two meetings:

July 9              Gilead: A Novel, by Marilynne Robinson

August 13       Almost Everything: Notes on Hope, by Anne Lamott


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